Response of selected soil physical and hydrological properties to soil applied and incorporated wood biomass in almond orchards
Plant biomass amendments affect soil hydrological properties. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects when wood biomass from a previous orchard is applied and incorporated into the soil prior to planting the next orchard with the practice of whole orchard recycling (WOR). Select soil properties of bulk density (ρb), porosity (ϕ), saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat), matric flux potential (Ψ), and water retention curves were measured for non-amended soil (Control) and WOR treatments. Results show significantly different values (p < 0.05) at depth with wood biomass present (15 cm) for ϕ, Ksat, and Ψ. For the same depth, differences in van Genutchen (1980) model parameters resulted in different water retention curves. I conclude WOR has effects on soil properties where wood biomass is incorporated. Based on the properties affected (e.g., Ksat), WOR may also influence soil moisture content deeper in the soil (i.e., below the depth where wood biomass is incorporated) given the interaction of surface soil properties to irrigated water’s timing and amount.